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Key to families | Table of families and genera

Specimen numbers are hyperlinked to records in the Consortium of California Herbaria data view where possible. Taxa are hyperlinked to entries in the Jepson Interchange via the "[Online Interchange]" link.



Martin F. Wojciechowski & Duane Isely

Annual, perennial herb, unarmed, generally hairy. Stem: prostrate to erect. Leaf: subpalmately compound or generally odd-1-pinnate; stipules ± fused to petiole, entire or deeply cut; leaflets 3, generally dentate near tip. Inflorescence: axillary or terminal, raceme, generally umbel- or ± head-like, 1–many-flowered. Flower: calyx lobes ± equal or not; corolla yellow or purple; 9 filaments fused, 1 free. Fruit: indehiscent, reniform or generally spirally coiled 1.5–8 turns (or sickle-shaped or straight), generally prickly. Seed: 1–several.
83 species: Mediterranean to western and central Asia; several cultivated, naturalized in warm temperate. (Greek: Medice, now Media, Asia Minor, source of alfalfa) Medicago muricata possibly naturalized in Carrizo Plain.
Unabridged references: [Small & Jomphe 1989 Canad J Bot 67:3260–3294]

Key to Medicago

1. Fruit 1-seeded, reniform, not prickly, black; flower 2–3 mm ..... M. lupulina

1' Fruit 1- to several-seeded, spirally coiled (or straight to sickle-shaped), prickly or not, tan or gray to black; flower 2–11 mm

2. Perennial herb, generally erect; corolla 6–11 mm, violet or violet- to yellow-green (yellow); fruit not prickly ..... M. sativa

2' Annual, generally prostrate, decumbent, or low; corolla generally 2–7 mm, yellow to orange-yellow; fruit prickly or not

3. Fruit not prickly, ± 1–1.5 cm wide ..... [M. scutellata]

3a. Stipules generally divided ± to base into a cluster of bristles ..... [M. orbicularis]

3a' Stipules dentate ..... [M. scutellata]

3' Fruit generally prickly, < 1 cm wide

4. Stipules generally entire to ± dentate; plant hairs generally dense

5. Leaves densely hairy; fruit sparsely hairy ..... M. minima

5' Leaves, fruit hairy, often glandular-hairy (or fruit glabrous) ..... M. rigidula

4' Stipules deeply toothed or cut; plant hairs generally ± 0 to sparse (strigose in M. praecox)

6. Leaflet generally with dark central spot, obovate to obcordate, length ± = or 1–2 × width; leaf pinnate or subpalmate; stipules generally cut 1/4–1/2 width

7. Leaflet generally obcordate, length ± = width; leaf pinnate or ± palmate; fruit a loose spiral, glabrous ..... M. arabica

7' Leaflet obovate (obcordate), length 1–2 × width; leaf pinnate; fruit generally a tight spiral, sparsely (densely) hairy ..... M. truncatula

6' Leaflet without dark central spot, generally wedge-shaped or obovate to obcordate, length 1–2 × width; leaf pinnate; stipules generally cut ± >= 1/2 width

8. Leaflet generally 10–20 mm, generally glabrous; corolla 3.5–6 mm; California Floristic Province; common ..... M. polymorpha

8' Leaflet 3–10 mm, generally strigose; corolla 2.5–4 mm; Inner North Coast Ranges, Cascade Range Foothills, Sierra Nevada, San Francisco Bay Area, South Coast; uncommon ..... M. praecox


Citation for the whole project: Jepson Flora Project (eds.) [year] Jepson eFlora, [accessed on month, day, year]
Citation for an individual treatment: [Author of taxon treatment] [year]. [Taxon name] in Jepson Flora Project (eds.) Jepson eFlora, [URL for treatment]. Accessed on [month, day, year].
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